tv BBC World News America WHUT February 16, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
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>> and now "bbc world news america." >> this is "bbc world news america." sending a message to bashar al- assad -- the u.n. general assembly calls for the syrian president to step down and the violence to stop. sentenced to life -- a nigerian man convicted of trying to blow up an airliner bound for detroit here's his fate in a u.s. court. and their adventure to the arctic and in disaster. thanks to some miraculously recovered photographs, one expeditions' journey is preserved for all to see.
>> welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and also around the globe. for nearly a year, the syrian government has been conducting a deadly crackdown against dissent. today, the guided nations general assembly took a stand. by a large majority, the international community voted to condemn the violence and call for the syrian president to step down. but with our russia and china on board, will it have any impact on the ground? >> the vote has been completed. >> with a decisive margin -- 137 in favor, 12 against, the world sent a strong message to president assad -- put an end to the violence and step aside. the syrians repeated their claims of self-defense. >> no country can accept the presence of armed terrorist groups on its territory. it cannot allow these groups to
implement attacks against its institutions and private and public property. >> pictures like these seem to show syrian government forces attacking residential districts. they leave many with little doubt that president's forces are attacking civilians. the international community is scrambling to act, with the un secretary general delivering his cop -- his strongest condemnation yes. >> we see almost certain crimes against humanity. the level of agreement in the security council does not give the government license to continue this assault on its own people. the longer we debate, the more people die. >> this was the response to weeks ago in beirut when russia and china vetoed a security council resolution calling for president assad to step down.
as the fighting continues, china is sending an envoy to damascus while russian and french foreign ministers have been in talks. but the urgent issue is humanitarian aid. there's no international agreement on how to offered and no way of doing so until the fight stops. following today's vote, the u.s. ambassador to the un so is a clear sign to the syrian people at the world is with you. to more reaction, let's talk our correspondent who is there now. the ambassador said the world is with you, but without russia and china, there is clearly still major divisions among the major powers. >> there certainly are fundamental major divisions amongst the main powers, the ones that ultimately make the decisions and the security council. that's why this resolution was vetoed and why its sponsors, which include the arab states
and western allies brought it to the general assembly. their point was to try to get a very high yes vote -- although it has no legal weight, we can show the world public opinion is with us. the general assembly is 193 members, most of the nations in the world. they did get more than two- thirds of the members of voting for the resolution, 137 yes votes. susan rice took that as saying we are sending a message to the international community, even if it does not include russia and china, to the syrian people, that we are with you. the idea was to send a message to the syrian government, to put increased pressure on it to stop the violence and accept a plan for transition the arabs have outlined. >> and that is the point, putting pressure on the syrian government. but there is a much pressure already, a much more pressure
will the non-binding resolution add? >> realistically, it's not going to add enough to make a difference on the ground. as more symbolic value. i think the arabs in particular, who presented the plan to the security council, did not get backing for it. they wanted to say they had international backing for it. but if you look at activity on the ground, you see a much less unified activity had different people doing different things. we heard the chinese and russians had been sending their own on voice to the region. next week, there'll be a meeting of the group called the friends of syria, a coalition of the willing that includes western states, arab states, and turkey and syria in opposition. that will be aimed mostly at supporting or building up support for the opposition as well as dealing with humanitarian issues.
to get unified action from the united nations, there are very slim chances of that and the vote today was a substitute for >> thank you very much for joining us. from syria to libya -- one year after the revolution started, celebrations are being held to mark the event. but while the toppling of the regime may have brought hoping for freedom and stability, a new report by amnesty international says both are under threat by armed image -- by armed militias still committing a torture and executions. we've got this report on where the country stands one year on i. >> they have been celebrating for days, ahead of the official anniversary. this is where it all began. the protests that turned into a vote. eventually it toppled one of the
most entrenched dictatorships of last half century. this is the birthplace of the revolt that ousted muammar gaddafi. the people here are seriously proud of that fact. this is still a country where groups of armed men wield disproportionate influence. when you're on, this still feels like unfinished business. away from the jubilations, rival militias squabble over territory, often with violent consequences. most of these lawless brigades of former rebel fighters answer to no one but their commanders. the new government is trying to incorporate them into a national army, but so far they have met with limited success. last spring, at the start of the revolution, this doctor swapped his stethoscope for a gun. he and thousands of young men like him risked their lives to overthrow muammar gaddafi's
brutal dictatorship. now as reports emerged of former rebels torturing their captured enemies, he says libya needs a new psychological revolution. >> gaddafi is gone and his family is gone, but the regime and his ideas are still imprinted on many minds. we have to change these mines and change ideas. ♪ >> when he is not singing and playing his guitar, he also fought on the frontline. he says it's vitally important that those who took up arms lay down their weapons. most libyans agree that the freedoms that have come with the revolution have changed their lives for the better. but until the militias disarmed behind the facade of a new and stable life, that is the danger of renewed violence.
>> a u.s. court has passed down a life sentence for a nigerian man who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up an american paint -- american plane bound for detroit in 2009. umar farouk abdulmutallab tried to detonate a bomb in his underwear with a flight carrying 300 people from amsterdam as it tried to land. >> this is the 25-year-old nigerian who tried to blow up a passenger jet over detroit on christmas day three years ago. his aim, to kill all 289 people on board. in court today, he is defined, declaring he wanted to avenge the attacks of the united states on muslims. he said today is a day of victory. the judge told him it was clear he had enormous motivation to carry out further attacks. she could only stop him by sentencing him to spend the rest of his life in jail. the prosecution say victory is theirs. >> al qaeda has lost once again. america has won once again.
we always do. >> he was radicalized in london and spent time training in al qaeda camp in yemen, declaring war against christians and jews. this airplane was the target of the most serious attempt to attack america since 9/11. he had explosives in his underpants and set them off injecting a liquid chemical. >> we were going to die. >> this man was on the plane just 10 feet away and saw smoke coming from his seat. >> i yelled fire, fire. not even two minutes after the explosion, a big flame that was so high, above his head. other passengers -- i yelled again, i think it's a terrorist. >> prosecutors say this is what had happened if the bomb would have worked property -- would
have worked properly. now controversial full body scanners are used in airports around the world. but the main problem was not technology. the case highlights serious failings among the american intelligence community. his father said his son was linked to extremist and they knew he had traveled to yemen and paid for his flight in cash. but they failed to put it altogether. as president obama put it, they failed to join the dots. it is possible to sit bought every potential teoris, but thankfully did not carry out the atrocity he had planned. >> let's take a look at some of today's other top stories. a nigerian islamist group said it the responsible for an attack on an algerian prison earlier today. more than 100 inmates were freed and a wharton was killed when gunman's open the gate of the prison just south of the
capital. just one prisoner was left behind. at least eight palestinian children and a teacher have been killed in a collision between a school bus and laurie in the west bank. the bus was carrying children as young as four on their way to run mollah, just north of jerusalem. in honduras, the painful wait continues for families have relatives inside a jail destroyed by fire on tuesday night. more than 350 people were killed in the blaze, but the cause is not clear. our reporter was on the scene and filed this report. >> for more than 24 harrowing hours, they have been waiting and praying. the family members gathered outside the prison just want to hear some news. any news about their relative. >> some of them like this one already have.
her two brothers were killed in the blaze, behind bars as the flames swept through the building. >> i understand there were some 900 inmates inside the building only designed for 300 or 400 people. it is a logical. they're human beings. even though they made mistakes, they're human beings and they have the right to live. >> as the hours passed, the bodies continue to appear. this is the grim scene that has been unfolding for hours. body bag after body bag loading on to trucks to be taken to the morgue. just a few hundred meters outside the burnt prison, the loved ones of prisoners are waiting desperately for more news. there is still no clear explanation of what happened. different government officials have given different versions of how the blaze has started. some claim there was a fight between rival gangs. others say it might have been an
electrical fault in the crumbling prison building. either way, almost all government officials agree the system need wholesale reform. >> they need to modernize the prison system in honduras. the government is aware of it. hopefully we will start doing it because we have to guarantee the security of the inmates. >> the human rights groups say the government has been here before. as recently as 2004, there is a prison fire in which 100 inmates died and the government promised there would never be a repeat. the horrific fire, which put this small rural community under the global spotlight suggests those lessons have still not been learned. >> you are watching "bbc world news america." still to come -- north korea
throws quite the birthday bash for kim jong il. but it is his son who is in the spotlight now. the afghan presidentz has made the first public acknowledgment that his government and the united states have started talks with the taliban. made the admission while in it as long bought for a regional summit. also attending was the iranian president, who wants to build a gas pipeline from his country to pakistan despite strenuous u.s. opposition. with more on that gathering, we got this report. >> the relationship between afghanistan and pakistan has often been characterized by mistrust and even a sense of betrayal. but you would not have guessed that today. the afghan president arrived with talk of a brotherly bond between the two countries. the issue that has caused problems in the past is pakistan
possible links to the taliban. but it is how that could help a that is now the major topic of discussion. the president wants assistance bringing the taliban to the negotiating table. >> they could play eight constructive role, although i should say a distracted roll as well. we hope that this time there -- they have promised a lot to the afghan people and to afghanistan and we want them to deliver. >> but the summit could be overshadowed by another neighbor. fresh from the announcements of new advances in iran's nuclear program, mahmoud ahmadinejad was given a customer got of -- guard of honor for the presidency. at a time of increasing tension with israel and the united states, during his stay, the iranian president will be keen to show he maintains support in
this region, even among america's allies. >> north korea is known for its pageantry. today, it pulled out all the stops on what would have been the 70th birthday of kim jong il. the former leader died in december, but the celebration served as a showcase for his son and successor, kim jong-un. >> north korea is having to pack a lot into its ceremonies these days. here, on the 70th anniversary of his birth, the country's late ruler had to share the limelight with his youngest son. kim jong-un has big shoes to fill and events like this are designed to help him do it. so, today, on his dad's
birthday, the north korea's leader got a pledge of allegiance from the army and fireworks. but then, kim jong-un has already received birthday gifts from the nation. a big statue in the capital. commemorative gold coins, a giant carving in the side of the mountain. as much of bolstering his son's power as honoring the dear leader, some say. but kim jong-un has looked thoroughly at home in his new role, taking a standing ovation. it is impossible to tell from outside the country, even here in south korea, just how much influence kim jong-un has over his father's comrades. but the celebrations are a chance for the regime to emphasize yet again the unique of 40 of the family name and the
thin but priceless credentials of the new young leader. >> extraordinary pictures there. that new young leader also graces the cover of time this week. for more on their in-depth look at kim jong-un, i spoke to the navy -- to that magazine's editor. >> why did you put them on the cover? >> because he has been in power for two months now and there hasn't been an in-depth look at him yet. our journalist who is one of the world's four wars -- foremost authorities on north korea went and dug around for six or eight weeks and try to come up with the most comprehensive profile on the leader of north korea. >> there is an interesting thing in the article says the only sure thing is kim jong-un is the least known and at less understood the leader of the nuclear nation. who do you think is calling the shots in north korea?
is he or are others? >> we spent a lot of time looking into that. there is no question right now he is the undisputed leader. but as bill powell says in his story, that power is by no means cemented. we're all looking for whether or not kim jong-un will stop himself as a reformer, which could spell trouble for the old guard, or fee is more of a status quo player and takes on the family business of despotism and running the country the way it has been ever since his grandfather. he probably will stay in power for quite some time because that patrilineal line is very important in north korea. >> he is only 29. is that going to have an impact on his leadership? do you think he will be liberalizing -- north korea as having talks with the u.s. next week. >> there will be bilateral talks on the february 23, which is the first time in a long time.
that will be a key measure of how the west is going to come to terms with kim jong-un. not so much is used, but the degree to which he may or may not have been westernize, considering he spent many of his formative years at boarding school in switzerland. he's a big basketball for at -- basketball fan and a lot of western friends and enjoy it western culture. the question is how much of that western is asian has seeped into his world view in the way he will try to liberalize -- westernize asian has seeped into his world view in a way that he can change his world view in a substantial way. >> there is so much we just do not know about him, and that is a concern. >> they do not call at the hermit kingdom for nothing. for generations, north korea has been the most isolated, least known country literally on the planet. even people who study it for
years and decades cannot get and and do not know who is really running the show. we know there is a small coterie of generals who worked with kim jong il, but reading the tea leaves, it's harder to figure out what's going on there than it was to figure out was going on in russia. >> to an ambitious but ill-fated journey a century ago. setting off in a hydrogen balloon, a scottish explorer and his two-man crew tried to be the first to reach the north pole. they died without making it. incredibly, the expedition's diaries and photographs were found three decades later and they have been compiled into a book. recently, its author spoke to us about that arctic adventure. >> in the book concerns a swedish person had the idea in
the 1890's that he could be the one to discover the north pole by flying to it in a hydrogen balloon. he build a hydrogen balloon that was more or less like a spaceship. it was this grant, 100 foot tall, immensely considered in every detail craft. they left the harbor. it took about one hour for them to disappear from the view of the people watching. they had a lovely first night going across over the ice. gradually, they began to encounter more and more fog, which is a fatal circumstance for a balloon because it continues to shrink your supply of hydrogen. it brought them after three days to the ice. then, they were no longer explores. they were adventurers. no explore wants to be an adventure. it's a terribly frightening and
unsettling thing. they had no idea of the truly punishing quality of slogging through this terrain day after day which was utterly unsympathetic. they would spend an entire day and make only a few hundred yards. they begin to see an island and it began to seem over the course of a couple of days that they could see the island. that is where they set off and it's not unreasonable to think they arrived at the island in and unbelievable despair and never recovered. they made the efforts that they could, but they died. when he was finally found in 1930, it was a story of international import. this legendary expedition which disappeared was suddenly found. not only were they found, the third journals were found and something not duplicated in the
annals of market explanation, the photographs they had taken. -- arctic exploration, it was as if you could in -- you could see them standing with the polar bears they had shot. because of their slightly watery quality and serial aspect, they all look like bulletins from the afterlife. you are looking at dead then somehow an acting these rights that have gone on an atmosphere of the world that no one had ever seen. >> really evocative pictures there. that brings today's show to a close. remember you can get constant updates on our web site and, to find out what we're working on, visit our facebook page. from all of us at "bbc world news america" thank you for watching and please tune in again tomorrow.
>> make sense of international news. bbc.com/news. >> funding was made possible by -- the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu newman's own foundation and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to understand the industry you operate in, working to nurture new ventures and help provide capital for key, strategic decisions. we offer expertise and tailored solutions in a wide range of industries. what can we do for you?